Drinks with Master Sculptor tonight has been cancelled, sadly. Another reminder that everyone has real lives which can sometimes get in the way of alternative ones. I almost used the word "imaginary" there which was perhaps just a natural linguistic pairing to the word real, but it did get me thinking.
I often use the word "real" when I'm describing my day-to-day life, work, going to the shops, meeting my vanilla friends in the pub. These things are no more or less real than my BDSM life, and in certain contexts the two overlap - I regularly meet The Photographer and Ethical Hedonist for a drink or dinner and whilst we will flirt and chat about kink we will be more playful than actually at play. Not that I have anything against being taken to a dark cinema with handcuffs hidden under jackets, just that that would be a very different activity for me. They are both, however, very real.
There is a certain underlying imagined element to fetish and submission, a lot of what turns me on is based on thoughts in my mind which emphasise and bounce off the physical aspects. Connected, but not the same. I like typing through sexual fantasies on IM, or via text, and in these contexts I am able to be hurt more, abused more, restrained and made to submit more because of the lack of reality. Conversely, I also enjoy physical play that allows my mind to switch off, some of the best experiences I have had have come from feeling totally immersed in sensation, whether it is pleasure or pain, to the point where I can't imagine beyond where I am, and even stringing together a coherent sentence in response to a simple "how does it feel?" is impossible.
Real can also be taken as a referent for "meaningful" or "valuable", another reason why I worry about it's use to define one aspect of my life from the other. I don't think that either type of activity or group of people is inherently better than the other, they fulfill different parts of my existence, and I need them both. Not simply as a contrast either, although certainly having a dirty little secret can add spice to a long train journey, whilst friends outside of the scene can give you an alternate perspective. Instead, the two are part of my life as a whole, I like and need them both.